Expert reveals best and worst email greetings
WE SEND and receive thousands of them every week on autopilot - and most of us don't stop to think about how we word our emails.
But it turns out we could be making some very common email fails that could see our messages sent straight to the bin.
People management specialist Karen Gately, director and founder of human resources firm Ryan Gately, told news.com.au it was essential to nail the wording of our emails - especially the greeting.
"An email is a communication tool, and essentially what we want to do is leave the person feeling open-minded and receptive, and ready to engage with whatever comes after that, so it's important at the starting point to set the tone for what the person can expect," she said.
"Know who the audience is and what level of familiarity you have with them.
"If I get a business email from someone I vaguely know that's too familiar, I might wonder how they are trying to influence me. So be friendly, but understand when to be professional, polite and courteous."
Ms Gately said the same rules that applied in the email's greeting also applied throughout the body of the message.
"Avoid being aggressive, impersonal and dismissive, remain courteous and then sign off with 'thanks' or 'regards' or whatever feels right to you," she said.
"Avoid writing in all capital letters because that comes across as you yelling, and follow it up with a phone call instead of underlining sentences or putting them in bold, as that can sound aggressive.
"And make sure the email is not too longwinded because if it's going to a big-picture person, you'll be lucky if they even read it. Know what you need to do to get their attention, and keep it."
Ms Gately also revealed the best - and worst - ways to begin a professional email.
• No greeting
According to Ms Gately, the worst option is not addressing the person at all.
"I get a lot of examples of people who get really frustrated that the person hasn't included that common courtesy," Ms Gately said.
"If you don't even include a 'Hi so-and-so', it comes across as really blunt and impersonal, and they'll think that's also what's coming next.
"You don't walk up to someone on the street and just start talking, but people often forget common courtesy and that the same rules apply in emails."
• Dear sir/madam
"This sounds impersonal and lazy and if you haven't found out my name, if you want to impress or influence or ask a favour, I'm unlikely to feel like it if you haven't done your homework," Ms Gately said.
• To the household/business owner
"I immediately think you're trying to sell me something, and I might not read what comes next," Ms Gately said.
• To whom it may concern
According to the HR expert, this greeting is very formal and impersonal.
"People might also potentially see it as old-fashioned," she said.
• Dear Mr/Mrs
This is also overly formal and possibly old-fashioned, Ms Gately said.
• Hey hon, darl, love
It seems obvious, but Ms Gately said inappropriate endearments were surprisingly common.
"Be careful not to be overly familiar - if someone I've only met once sends me an email saying 'Hey darl' I don't really mind, but a lot of people would," she said.
"Make sure you've actually got a friendship type relationship before you go there."
• Misspelt names
Ms Gately said this will come across as rude and will seem like you haven't bothered to do your research.
• Hi [insert person's name]
"This is doing everything you want to do in an email - it's polite and friendly and shows common courtesy," Ms Gately said.
• Hi [insert person's chosen nickname]
Another option was to include a person's nickname or preferred name - but only if you get it right.
"Know what people like being called first - whether it's Nick instead of Nicholas, or Kate instead of Catherine," Ms Gately said.
"If you understand who the person is, you're more likely to resonate with them in a positive way, as long as you get it right."
Ms Gately said this was another safe option, as it felt "friendly, jovial and lighthearted".